Posters - WindEurope Annual Event 2024

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We would like to invite you to come and see the posters at our upcoming conference. The posters will showcase a diverse range of research topics, and will give delegates an opportunity to engage with the authors and learn more about their work. Whether you are a seasoned researcher or simply curious about the latest developments in your field, we believe that the posters will offer something of interest to everyone. So please join us at the conference and take advantage of this opportunity to learn and engage with your peers in the academic community. We look forward to seeing you there!

PO169: Rare Earths in Wind Turbines: Defining Product Category Rules (PCR) for Comparative LCAs from Resource Extraction to Magnet Production

Neda Bahremandi, Research Fellow, Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA)


With climate change identified as a major threat to society, countries are implementing green strategies and switching to clean energy technologies to fight it. Consequently, there is a growing demand for materials used in the production of key components for these technologies, including wind turbines. Rare earth elements (REE) are the most important critical material required to produce permanent magnets for wind turbine generators and electric vehicle motors and play a key role in clean energy and mitigating carbon emissions. In addition, many governments are implementing climate plans and agreements, to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Accordingly, companies are mandated to provide their sustainability report showing the Environmental, social and governance impacts of their products. In this regard, life cycle assessment (LCA) is the best available method to evaluate the environmental impacts. To conduct an LCA, clear and consistent guidelines or standards are needed. Product Category Rules (PCR) are the most commonly used standard and guidelines for conducting a product-level LCA. However, there was no PCR available for assessing environmental impacts of rare earth processing across the entire supply chain. Moreover, comparing LCA studies of REE products is challenging due to the utilization of different methodologies and lack of a standardized system definition for data collection and modelling. For the first time, we developed PCR for REE and its applications. We categorized the REE products through the whole supply chain from mine to oxide, oxide to metal and metal to magnet. The functional unit and system boundary for each product were determined. The most important section for doing LCA of a REE product is the multi-output allocation method which was clearly explained in the PCR. This could be the base for assessing the sustainability of any wind turbine tier-1 company or OEM allowing them to evaluate their magnet supply chain.

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